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BASH Festival - One small step towards closing the digital skills gap in the tech industry

12 Aug 20193 minutes read

BASH Festival was hosted in Southampton in collaboration with Southampton City Council and Network Eagle Labs. Elbrie de Kock, from Etch UK, lead the free week-long coding week for 13-17 year olds.

Written by Elbrie de Kock, 12th August, 2019

The pressure to educate enough people with specialist digital skills by 2022 is mounting. The education system cannot do it alone, so it is important that industry leaders and companies get involved and support young people to gain technical skills they can apply in real-world settings.

This is precisely what Underland Events set out to achieve through BASH Festival this summer.

BASH Festival was hosted in Southampton in collaboration with Southampton City Council and Network Eagle Labs. Elbrie de Kock, from Etch, led the free week-long coding week for 13-17 year olds. 

Eleven brave young people arrived on Monday morning, not knowing anyone and was set a task to create a digital project within a week. Their aim, to present their project on Friday to an interested audience and /or attend a weekend festival in Birmingham to show off their work.

Network Eagle Lab is a fantastic setting for an event like BASH Festival. It’s the newest co-working space for start-ups and small business in the city with a modern and creative interior. The participants got a first-hand feeling what working in such a space would be like. 

The backing of Southampton City Council, really demonstrates their commitment to support young people to gain the right skills for the digital future. Paulina from Enterprise Growth delivered an inspiring talk about how to present yourself and your ideas to an audience. Useful skills for future innovators and startups.

Sharon Jones, a lab technician, from Barclays Eagle Labs showed participants around the Makerspace introducing them to modern fabrication tools for rapid prototyping and product development. Sharon also delivered a Life Skills workshop, helping the young people find their ‘sweet spot’ when it comes to choosing a career. Do what you love, use or build your skills and find out what the market needs! 

Love what you do, is a motto at Etch Group, spurring to employees push the boundaries, explore and develop new skills. 

Some participants arrived for the coding week with zero coding skills. Their enthusiasm to learn and outstanding support from volunteering mentors, Ollie P, Guy M, and Ben W meant that all the young people presented their completed, in progress and, for one participant, failed projects on Friday.

The young people soon discovered; the technical skills were not the only they gained over the week. Collaboration, team-work, communication, critical feedback, creative thinking and problem solving were all added to their bank of skills. 

The future seems brighter when young people can access events, like BASH Festival, to learn relevant coding and digital skills as well as becoming problem solvers and creative thinkers. It seems that educators, parents and companies all need to work together to move young people forward faster!

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